Coming Soon on Kickstarter Forward Defense '85

Forward Defense '85

Forward Defense '85 is a solitaire tactical tabletop wargame where the player leads a company-sized NATO element in a hypothetical, realistic WW3. 

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The experience of your units, terrain, your objectives, and the balance of the overall campaign affect each and every procedurally-generated battle in the campaign. Every decision matters and requires you to value your resources: Is it worth holding that town and securing at tactical victory? Or is it wiser to withdraw your best armor platoon to fight another day?

Forward Defense '85 simulates the fast, ultra high-intensity battles that would have been expected in the opening phase of a Cold War gone hot. Game mechanics are built to reflect the AI using actual Soviet doctrine versus a more nimble but dramatically outnumbered NATO player. 

The base game puts the player in command of a company-sized NATO unit as part of the US 1st Cavalry Division, quickly deployed to reinforce NORTHAG and hold off a Soviet thrust toward the city of Hanover. 

A wargame you can actually get on the table

A small footprint game, FD '85 can easily be played on a desk. Setup takes less than 12 minutes (I timed it with a stopwatch) and playing a mission takes about 60 minutes - individual missions in the campaign offer a natural break point, making it easy to fit a complete experience in a small amount of time, or play through as many as you want.

The original idea for this game started with discovering the Team Yankee miniatures game, and then reading the excellent Team Yankee novel by Harold Coyle. Playing miniatures games at a local store felt too time intensive for where I was in my life, and playing that game solo didn't seem to scratch the itch. Forward Defense '85 began as a ruleset I started to play with 3mm miniatures, and evolved over more than 3 years to the board game it is today. 

Easy PnP assembly (or get the physical version and leave it to our experience manufacturing partner)

Designed from the beginning to be print-and-play (PNP)-friendly, Forward Defense '85 assembles quickly. The complete list of materials needed:

4 D20 dice (though you can get away with just one)
About 13 pages of components to be printed ideally on cardstock (includes platoon cards, counters, and deployment cards)
2 letter-sized sheets for the campaign details and campaign tracker
Rulebook (about 16 pages single-sided)
No taping or double-sided cards to assemble

FD '85 features 3 difficulty levels to increase the challenge in successive playthroughs. The game's mission generation system means that by tweaking a few small values at the beginning of the campaign, the player will face increased challenges in losing units, more life-or-death last stands, and increased pressure from top-tier Soviet units, all with no additional bookkeeping for the player. 

With the first expansion campaign already in the works, the Forward Defense '85 system lends itself well to a wide variety of historical and hypothetical conflicts. 

The conditions for every battle are generated based on tables on the campaign sheet - these are influenced by momentum (winning/losing battles in the campaign) and attrition on either side. Losing units makes it more difficult for the player to get reinforcements, while Soviet unit quality will degrade as second-tier units are brought forward to relieve their battered forces. Based on performance, the player gets supply dice prior to each battle - these can be used to call in replacements, get air support, or attach additional platoons from friendly forces. Loses can often be replaced, but the replacements will lack the experience your surviving units build through surviving battles. Unit quality (a combination of experience, training, and morale) is a key factor providing bonuses in several different ways. 

Battles can place the player on the attack or in a defensive position, aiming to overcome numerically superior Soviet forces. The Soviets will use their mass to attempt to break through your lines, while the player must maneuver carefully to use (generally) superior units and clever tactics to win. Units operate at the platoon level, with losses tracked by each individual vehicle. Combat is D20-based, with attacks rolling to hit, then rolling to destroy, enemy vehicles. Dismounted infantry, following doctrine of the time, operate with their transport vehicles and provide bonuses to them while not suppressed. 

Below: Forward Defense '85 in Tabletop Simulator. Components subject to change in final version.

Battles resolve quickly, typically taking an hour or less. Despite the depth of tracking campaign progress and multiple individual platoons, progress is tracked on a single side of a sheet of paper for an entire campaign, and takes about five minutes after a battle to record. 

The first expansion takes WW3 to a new front: Southern Sweden. To deny NATO access to the Baltic, Warsaw pact forces have launched an armored thrust across northern Germany into Denmark, and conducted amphibious landings in southern Sweden. 

This expansion adds a new campaign, new Swedish units (including the famous Strv 103 "S-Tank"), new Polish units, and several new unit traits giving them unique roles. This campaign is more offensively-focused than the base game. 

We are working with an experienced US-based manufacturer for FD '85. This printer has successfully fulfilled multiple Kickstarters for other clients and has a strong reputation. 

Shipping from the US provides much cheaper shipping for customers in the US and Canada, though we can ship worldwide. However, the PnP version provides a great alternative for customers in other markets looking to avoid shipping costs.

Experience in the wargame market

Aside from designing Forward Defense '85, I own and operate Strategist's Den Games (, a US-based online store specifically for solo wargames. I've gotten to know many people in the industry through my store, and several well-known and published game designers have offered me invaluable advice and encouragement through this journey. 
Update #1

Forward Defense '85 is live on Kickstarter!

2024-04-09 14:04:16 Read More
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